How to Go Digital (and 4 Ways You Shouldn’t)

Scroll For More

How to Go Digital (and 4 Ways You Shouldn’t)

In 2017, I don’t believe I have to argue that a “digital presence” is needed for your business. Years ago, this presence was optional but soon became territory for the leading edge. Then it expanded to mainstream with retail and media. Today, even traditionally “back of house” operations and B2B companies are realizing increased market penetration and operational efficiencies that can be found through web-based tools and cloud-located assets. What was once a novelty is now a necessity. The questions are not whether or not to have a website, but what do we need, how do we get this done and who do we contact for help? 

In the effort to build an online presence to better serve your customers and operators, you might be inclined to explore several options:

  1. Employ your IT department or vendor
  2. Build your own with a DIY online tool
  3. Enlist your technology-savvy friends
  4. Employ your traditional marketing agency

While each of these tactics may have inherent benefits, there are potential pitfalls that should be considered as well. At the end of this article, I’ll present the best option. SPOILER: None of the above

1: Employ your IT department or vendor

Internet technology parody of a toy worker

Your Information Technology (IT, parody picture above) department typically is tasked with “keeping the digital lights on.” If you’ve ever had a day where you couldn’t log in to your computer, your email wasn’t working or you couldn’t access your files on the server, you know how impactful (think: crater) this can be on your productivity. IT knows this and works hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. Typically, the business software running on their hardware is, at best, second priority. From there, you would likely go through the whole list to find the “make website effective” line item isn’t on it. It’s often not their job, nor their expertise. It shouldn’t be, so don’t ask firefighters to help with your barbeque.

2: Build your own with a Do-It-Yourself online tool

Frustrated person with their head down at their computer

The thought of building your own may not seem too hard. Kids in grade school are dabbling in creating website through tools like Wix and SquareSpace. In high school and beyond, WordPress is a very popular tool for quickly building sites with an administrative backend. Additionally, there are thousands of plugins that extend WordPress to do most anything you might imagine.

This thought is akin to deciding you want to have cake for a party. Rather than buying one, you decide to find a recipe and make it yourself. Nothing wrong with this at all, but there are other costs. The time you’ll spend learning and making the cake, will take away from your party planning. If you stick with a simple recipe you’ll likely be better off than if you go for a Matcha Chantilly Cake.

I’m getting hungry so I’ll leave the baking metaphor alone, but let’s say your business need is for the “Matcha Chantilly Cake” of websites. Your site must be unique, appealing, serve your purpose, and be both content rich and satisfying while staying cost effective and flexible. You have separate databases for products, users, and other pertinent information already in-house that you’d like your website to both read from and update. You’ll find very quickly the “quick start” templates of these web site builder don’t allow the flexibility for you to easily expand, mold and extend your software to address your business goals. These pre-built frameworks are great since they allow you to quickly frame up your site, but that frame also becomes walls shutting you out from anything outside their capabilities. And while plugins do add to your framework, they come with their own set of rules and add complexity—and likely more limitations than you can tolerate.

3: Enlist your technology-savvy friend

Banyan tree

Whether your friend is person, a team, or an organization, technology has more branches than a banyan tree (pictured). Knowing how to build an app or how to write code does not equate to creating an online experience that achieves defined business goals. A successful digital launch requires strong project management. More than a few meetings, creative sessions, and email threads between all parties are typically required before the first line of code is written or the first image is captured. You could work with a marketing agency but…

4: Ask your marketing agency

Old school image from Mad Men TV show

If you ask a marketing agency to help you “go digital,” you should first ask for their digital portfolio, then ask who did the programming. First, a lack of experience in the areas you want to market in and through means you’ll be financing their learning curve. If not in dollars (let’s say they don’t charge you for “getting up to speed”), you’ll pay for the experience they pass on to the next client. Meaning, there is a right way to develop a responsive website. There is a right way to implement analytics. There is a best practice in managing a rollout and the subsequent updates. Many of these things require insights only experience can afford.

Second, if an agency concepts but then sub-contracts out the development work to a specialist, you will likely suffer in the handoff. Like the “IT Vendor” scenario, the development shop is focused on writing code. They will not necessarily be on the same wavelength as your agency in what is being built and why. There are many, many decision points when building a site that will affect your end product for its entire lifetime. You may decide six months after launch that you’d like to see how many people found your site through Google, clicked on the “Featured Product” on your homepage, but decided to leave the site halfway through filling out the “Contact Me” form. That information is easily attained IF your agency defined the appropriate tracking and the development team “connected the analytics dots.” If not, that historical data was not captured and never will be available. Your site will need to be retrofitted if you’d like to get these numbers in the future.

Best option: Engage a digital agency with in-house developers

Digital meeting on a laptop

In this case, a digital agency (Marlin Network cross-functional meeting pictured) will specialize not only in marketing but have an in-house digital development team to partner with the project manager to execute on the project. Under one roof you’ll have the project management, the artists, writers, and developers working closely to make sure the business needs are mapped, made, and measured. There is no learning curve because the process has been done before and continuously improved. It’s our day job and our primary focus. It’s not farmed out and it’s not templated. We definitely won’t “re-invent the wheel” when it comes to leveraging efficiencies, but we’ll know where the cost of a framework is too high. We’ll build it for both your current goals and your future needs.

You need an online presence to better serve your customers and operators, but do not fall into the temptation to go with anyone other than an experienced digital marketing agency. The right agency will fit the very best technology and branding into your budget. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact the Marlin Network now.

You May Also Enjoy Reading

Why You Want to Target Food-Fluencers

Christopher Wolf

Christopher Wolf

SVP of Insights
For most of human history, food was primarily a source of sustaining life vs. enjoying it. As technology and the economy progressed in the 20th century, it became possible for an increasing number of people to treat food as a lifestyle accessory or status symbol...
Taking a photo of beautiful food with a phone

Can “WFH” Produce Better Creative Work?

Tim Bade

Tim Bade

Chief Creative Officer
I’ve been wondering whether working from home can elevate our creative work. Many studies have been done and most point to enhanced efficiency from people working at home rather than an office. But how does that apply to the creative work we do?
Working from home with kids hanging on you

Six Factors That Drive Every Consumer Choice

Ron Halverson

Ron Halverson

SVP of Halverson
Some decisions are easy. Some are painstakingly hard. The rest fall somewhere in between. Where do your category and brand fit in? Knowing will allow you to influence the consumer decision. Halverson Group can help you find out.
Consumer trying to choose between products

What’s the Hubbub?

Jeff Daniel

Jeff Daniel

SVP of Integrated Connections
Apple, namely Tim Cook, has been talking about the need for transparency around data collected on consumers and to give consumers control over whether they want data collected about them or not...
Digital data security

Making Pandemic Lemonade

Christopher Wolf

Christopher Wolf

SVP of Insights
It will take many years to assess and mourn the devastating and lasting effects Covid is having on our collective mental, physical and economic health. But we can already begin to understand the ways the hospitality industry has adapted for the better and created new opportunity,directly as a result of the crippling lockdowns that laid waste to so many businesses and livelihoods in the past year...

Yuzu what?

Meredith Daca

Meredith Daca

Senior Culinary Planner
What’s happening in emerging citrus flavors. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. These are the usual suspects when it comes to citrus fruits. But have you tried yuzu?…
Locations In:

BOSTON, Massachusetts
CHICAGO, Illinois
DENVER, Colorado
IRVINE, California

NEW YORK, New York
ST. LOUIS, Missouri

For brands that are going places.

From daily coffee stops to weekend lunch capades to once-in-a-lifetime vacations, consumers are always on the go. Brands that meet them where they are with the products, services and experiences that delight will win. Marlin Network is a destinations marketing agency that understands where guests are going, what makes them stay and what brings them back for more.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

You may unsubscribe from our newsletter at any time. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we store and protect your data.

©2022 Marlin Network. An Advantage Marketing Partner. Trading as ADV.    |     Privacy & Cookie Policy     |     Careers

Scroll to Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.